How to Know if Your SEO Efforts are Actually Working
According to a relatively recent research, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Given this fact, it’s not surprising at all that the number of businesses investing in search engine optimization is on a steady rise. However, merely developing a powerful SEO strategy is not enough. To improve your rankings on Google, drive quality traffic to your website and boost conversion rates, you need to measure the success of your SEO efforts.
Even though the assessment of an SEO strategy heavily depends on your particular industry, your business type, and your objectives, there are some key performance indicators (KPIs) every digital marketer should take into consideration.
So, let’s check them out.
How Well do you Rank in SERP?
Did you know that the websites listed on the first page of search results get more than 92% of all traffic? In other words, your ranking in SERP is the key to your success. Tracking your rankings over time will show you whether your SEO campaign is making progress, as well as help you research and implement the keywords relevant to both your niche and your customers.
However, Google has decided to provide their customers with personalized content, directly in the search feed. With such changes, traditional keyword ranking has lost a part of its relevance in the SEO industry.
Here are several reasons why keyword rankings shouldn’t be the core of your SEO strategy.
- Search results are tailored to users’ preferences, based on their demographic background, browsing history, IP, search index, social activity on Google+, and user behavior. Put simply, the way you see your website in the SERPs can vary from what your customers see when they Google the same keywords.
- The same goes for device differences, which are still huge. Namely, your mobile and desktop rankings are never the same. So, even if you’re receiving massive traffic from both, you need to analyze them individually.
- You don’t know exactly how much traffic a specific keyword attracts. Addressing this problem, Moz’s Rand Fishkin pointed out that, instead of tracking your keywords, you should monitor the pages receiving visits from search queries and measure the keywords they rank for. This way, you will create a report that analyzes not only keywords, but also the value of your pages and content.
None of the facts listed above should discourage you from tracking keyword rankings. As they are one of the most powerful ways to connect your brand with your target audience, they are still a crucial part of your SEO. You just need to know how and why you should keep track of your keyword rankings. As Fishkin points out, when tracking your keyword rankings, you need to look for “the reasons of real value and actionability.” To help you in this endeavor, you can use smart tools to craft your SEO reports, and always know where you stand.
Monitor Your Website Traffic
One of the most significant metrics you should assess is the amount of quality traffic your SEO practices bring to your site. According to studies, 61% of marketers say that their priority is to improve their SEO efforts to boost their organic presence. To do so, they turn to Organic Search Traffic in Google Analytics. However, the problem with this kind of report is that, although it provides an accurate graph, it doesn’t explain how your website traffic works. This is why you need to dig deeper and pay attention to the following.
Determine traffic sources
It’s important to drive quality traffic from different sources. To do so, you need to understand how your target audience finds you. There are a plethora of traffic sources you need to track, including organic traffic (a user enters a keyword in a search engine), direct traffic (someone enters your URL in the address bar), paid search campaigns (think AdWords), referrals (links pointing to your website from other sites) and social media channels.
Look for drastic changes in traffic
If there are any drastic spikes or drops in your website traffic, they will certainly catch your eye. Sure, your aim is to determine what has caused these changes, so you can adapt your SEO efforts to these results in the future. However, not every drop in your traffic indicates the ineffectiveness of your SEO efforts. For example, seasonal fluctuations in your industry’s search trends may influence your results. If your site was doing exceptionally well in December, it’s normal for your traffic to drop in January, once the holidays are over.
Keep in mind that website traffic is pointless on its own if you don’t inspire your visitors to take action. That’s where we get to today’s last lesion – website conversions.
Keep Track of your Website Conversions
Conversion rates are defined as the percentage of website visitors that complete a specific set action. Even though they were initially mostly associated with e-commerce sites, today, they play a fundamental role in most niches. As they vary across industries, you need to define them according to your specific goals. For example, for online businesses, the process of measuring conversion rates is focused on the number of products sold. On the other hand, contact form submissions, social shares, newsletter subscriptions, or white paper downloads might also serve as brilliant traffic quality indicators.
Only by tracking your conversion rates will you be able to contextualize your content marketing strategy, customize your digital marketing efforts to meet your visitors’ expectations, and, most importantly, detect potential drawbacks in your SEO strategy and solve them on time.
Some basic metrics you need to pay attention to when calculating conversion rates are:
- Unique visitor conversions, or the way your users engage with your content.
- Returning visitor conversions – Why did this user come back to your site? Have they already taken action and, most importantly, is there a chance to convert them the second time around?
- Interactions per visit show you how a user engages with your website. It includes page views per visit, the average visit duration, reviews and comments they leave and so on.
- Bounce rate – the number of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.
If you notice that your bounce rate is high, while the number of pages viewed per visit and the average time visitors spend on your website is low, this could mean that your site is not adequately optimized, that you’re using the wrong keywords or that you’re attracting the wrong audience to your website.
Hopefully, this guide will help you choose the right metrics to analyze and how to do so. By monitoring and measuring these KPIs, you will not only be able to assess the overall effectiveness of your SEO campaign, but also to collect actionable data that will keep you on track in the future.